Review by Paul H Birch
Twelve years back Voodoo Sioux were supporting the likes of Terrorvision and Little Angels. Why they split I’ve no idea but they kept on playing, just not with each other. Now all four original members are back for Grotesque Familiares, a collection of songs I can only describe as fidgety rock pop.
In parallel or counterpoint to many of the songs’ main structures – while rarely overwhelming them – are speedy little rock ’n’ roll runs, comically played motifs, Hendrix flavoured wailings and some big Beatles-style guitar chords to boot; all bolted together by a bass guitar jiggling away in a fiendish manner underneath and a drummer who crashes and bangs in syncopated sympathy.
Jon Blakely, Mario Ermoyenous and Nigel Halford respectively have as their front man a certain Nikki Flaherty who at times comes across as Joe Elliott singing Britpop while intimating some dark lyrical wordplay in what initially appear the most upbeat of numbers.
‘Pillow Talk’ pretty much ticks all those musical boxes while being one of the most straight ahead rockers on the record. Whereas ‘Mister Smith or Jones’ is The Hollies meets a hard-bopping Dexys Midnight Runners and in some alternative universe is already a deserved hit single! There’s an increasing Irish folk jilt for another batch of songs, some Def Leppard riffage in ‘Damage’, while the AOR ambiance opens up on numbers like ‘Exit’, things slow down on ‘Indian Summer’ and similarly for ‘Manic Evangeline’ that has an added an epic widescreen feel. Mind you, the rummy hard rock of ‘Is it Soup Yet?’ is a most fearsome beast both musically and lyrically and ‘Jasmine’ doesn’t lag too far behind it, both best played loud.
But on all of the songs, there’s this danceable quality, that’s where that vintage pop element comes in for me. It also has equal measures of fun and menace; the way bands as different and distant in time to each other as Supergrass and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band did.
I get the impression this is a band best appreciated live where they can give it their all, responding to crowd reaction. Regardless, there’s more than meets the eye – and indeed the lugholes – to Voodoo Sioux so if you buy Grotesque Familiares you’ve got to give it a good airing, there’s some clever musicianship and insightful songs being sung worth exploring properly aurally.
7 out of 10
- Pillow Talk (Explicit)
- Mister Smith or Jones
- Mozart in Reverse
- Indian Summer
- Down (Explicit)
- Is it Soup Yet?
- The Only Thing
- Manic Evangeline (Explicit)
- Chase the Voodoo